Sept. 19--Construction of RockSugar Southeast Asian Kitchen, a new restaurant next to The Cheesecake Factory at Oakbrook Center, has eliminated parking spaces from an area of the mall where parking is often scarce.
"Parking is definitely something to keep an eye on around here because it does sometimes fill up," said Jair Soberanis, manager at Perry'sSteakhouse & Grille. "We'll have to see how it goes, but I don't think it will hurt our business. We also have valet parking, if people want that."
Soberanis said all employees are supposed to park in the outer ring of the mall so that spaces closest to Perry's and other nearby restaurants in the southeast portion of the mall remain open for customers.
"It can get pretty full, especially around the holidays, but there's parking available," Soberanis said. "If people can't find a someplace close to park, they can use the valet or walk a little."
Caryn Torres, senior general manager of Oakbrook Center, said mall owner General Growth Properties is spending about $20 million for parking improvements, which started in 2016 and will continue into 2018. Among the 2018 work is the green parking deck, closest of the mall's six decks to restaurants on the southeast side.
"We recognize parking has become a pain point for some of our customers," Torres said. "I think some people may overlook the green parking deck when they come to one of those restaurants, but there are almost always spaces available there, and it's covered, which is nice during bad weather."
Torres, who wasn't certain how many parking spaces were lost to RockSugar Southeast Asian Kitchen, said parking deck improvements include fresh paint and more signs to notify drivers where parking is available.
"We also have digital signs that indicate how many spaces are available in a deck when you drive in, so you don't have to waste time driving around on a level that doesn't have open spaces," Torres said. "That is something that will be added to the green deck when that work is done."
Oakbrook Center has about 12,000 total parking spaces, said Lindsay Kahn, a spokesperson for General Growth Properties
David Walker, 43, of Chicago, said he visits Oakbrook Center about once every couple of months, but usually doesn't include restaurants on the southeast side of the mall in his itinerary because he has been frustrated in finding parking.
"They really do have plenty of parking here overall, but you don't always want to have to walk very far," he said. "I know I can get a bit lazy, especially if I'm just coming to eat, or that's going to be the first thing I do at the mall.
"I guess we'd all like to have a reserved parking space right next to where we want to go, but I don't think that's going to happen."
Thomas Wilke, 41, of Glen Ellyn, said he prefers to not have to walk very far when he comes to one of the restaurants.
"When I come here to shop, I don't really think about where I park because I usually am going to be walking around the mall for a while and spending more time," he said. "When I come just to eat at or near Perry's, I focus more on finding a parking space that's as close as possible, although, if I have to, I will look farther away to find an open spot."
A representative for RockSugar Southeast Asian Kitchen, which is under the same ownership as The Cheesecake Factory and scheduled to open in early December, said accessibility is important to the restaurant team, and its group members believe the location will provide adequate parking.
"There is a three-story parking garage nearby that will be available to RockSugar guests," said Alethea Rowe, senior director of public relations for RockSugar Southeast Asian Kitchen.
With only a Los Angeles location already open, Rowe said Oak Brook was chosen for a new restaurant because of its potential for RockSugar.
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